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Jordan Candler / March 15, 2016

Is the ObamaCare Death Spiral Underway?

Study suggests 14.7 million will be the total number of ObamaCare enrollees.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation analysis bodes tremendously ill for ObamaCare. But before we provide the prognosis, let’s take stock of where we are. Currently there are an estimated 12.7 million Americans getting health insurance through ObamaCare, which is a relatively slight increase from 11.7 million in early 2015. However, as Kaiser cautions, “Actual enrollment will end up somewhat lower than this because some people will not pay their premiums or will have their coverage terminated due to inconsistencies on their applications, and there is typically additional attrition as the year progresses (e.g., as some enrollees get jobs with health benefits).”

This explains why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last week reported that as of “December 31, 2015, about 8.8 million consumers had effectuated Health Insurance Marketplace coverage,” which The Hill notes is “3.5 percent below the administration’s target” of 9.1 million and “a drop of almost 25 percent compared to the 11.7 million people who were signed up at the beginning of 2015.” There’s no question that participation is bad, but even the government’s “target” rate is deceiving. Why? Because paltry enrollment since ObamaCare’s inception has forced the feds to set the bar much lower. And moving the goal posts is what this administration does best.

Consider the magnitude of Congressional Budget Office revisions. A year ago the CBO expected around 21 million Americans to be enrolled in 2016. But by January the CBO made a mammoth change, calling for only 13 million. And if the Kaiser Family Foundation is correct, that’s not too far from what will probably be the total number of consumers for the foreseeable future. Kaiser says “the 12.7 million signups so far represent 46% of the ‘potential market’ for the marketplaces,” and an extrapolation of current trends suggests an “‘effectuated’ enrollment total of 14.7 million,” or what it describes as “a reasonable estimate of a ceiling on what marketplace enrollment could grow to over the next several years, assuming current levels of premium subsidies and outreach.”

Kaiser concludes, “Judging by the experience of the top performing states, there is considerable room for enrollment growth over the next several years. However, even if all states signed people up at the rate of the top 10 states, enrollment would still fall well short of projections by CBO, suggesting that those forecasts may have been unrealistic.” The reality is that government programs never live up to the hype — and numbers don’t lie. As John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” The fact is, it was the authors of ObamaCare who had egregiously unrealistic expectations.

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